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Bartlett: Tangible change needed to stop murders

Published:Tuesday | December 12, 2017 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke
Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett in discussion with Galina Sotirova, country manager of the World Bank Group, yesterday.

While violence against tourists amounts to less than one per cent of all crimes committed in St James, it is still a concern that requires tangible change overall to effectively counter Jamaica's international image as a crime-infested country, says Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett.

He was addressing journalists yesterday at a post-event briefing for the United Nations World Tourism Organization, which was held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre and which drew approximately 1,497 delegates from November 27 to 29.

"The fact that incidents against tourists are minimal is of little comfort. We have to deal with problems as they relate to people, as tourism is about people, and if we are killing one another, it must have an impact overall," Bartlett said.

He said that one of the significant things that Jamaica had in its favour, was that while combating crime, visitors were still able to access some of the greatest experiences available in the tourism market. This outweighs the negatives triggered by record murders in St James, particularly in Montego Bay, regarded as the island's Mecca of tourism, Bartlett said.


Tourists treated differently


Additionally, Bartlett said there was a strange contradiction in how Jamaicans treated each other, but reserved warmth and decency for visitors.

"It is some level of contradiction in our behaviour in that we are hostile with each other but warm and friendly to visitors. I want that to continue - how we treat our tourists with that warmth, but at the same time, I want (us) to change how we treat each other as locals," noted Bartlett.

The change he was alluding to is also being sought by stakeholders and the police. The lawmen had a marathon meeting at the police commissioner's office in Kingston on Monday, where the top brass of the force met to hammer out a new security plan for St James.

'We need to de-gut ourselves of things that cause crime'

Tourism minister Edmund Bartlett has said that perhaps the society needs a catharsis, a process of release from its strongly built up emotions, in the form of a truth and reconciliation commission, along with a robust re-education of the people, in order to defeat crime.

"Perhaps there is a need to de-gut ourselves of these things that have caused the proliferation of crime. It's a culture that has invaded every aspect. It's a whole change, a major shift which has to take place," he noted.

Key to ridding the tourist centre of wanton murders, as laid out by the special meeting on Monday, is a plan to target illegal vending and traffic congestion caused by undisciplined drivers in an eight-point plan.